China warns of nuclear war
BEIJING—China is warning the United States of a nuclear war if the American government puts meat into a statement made by incoming US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Chinese should be prevented from occupying artificial islands they built in parts of the South China Sea that China is disputing with the Philippines and other countries.
In an editorial, the Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times said Tillerson better “bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”
“Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish,” said the Global Times, which is believed to represent the thinking of hawkish members of the Communist Party of China.
Tillerson, former ExxonMobile chief executive officer, told US senators that he would seek to deny Beijing access to the artificial islands that China has been building in the South China Sea.
China’s actions in the region are comparable to Russia’s invasion of Crimea, he said, a comment that did not sit well with the nuclear-armed Asian giant.
If Tillerson acted on his threats, Chinese state-owned China Daily warned “it would set a course for devastating confrontation between China and the US.”
Satellite photos show China has been hard at work building military facilities in the contested waters, which are also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam, among other claimants.
Under US President Barack Obama, Washington has claimed Beijing’s activities in the region threaten freedom of navigation and overflight through the commercially and strategically vital waters.
But Obama has not taken a position on the ownership of the islets, reefs and shoals that sit in one of the world’s hot spots.
Tillerson, however, explicitly said that the territories “are not rightfully China’s.” —AFP
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